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Lion vs. Wolf: Differences & Similarities (Who Would Win in a Fight?)

The main difference between lions and wolves is their appearance. Lions are much bigger than wolves, and can typically take them down. They do share social behavior though.

While wolves and lions don’t cross paths in the wild very often, it does happen. 

All Wolfpack Ranks (Wolf Facts) x
All Wolfpack Ranks (Wolf Facts)

These two animals are very different in many ways, but they also have many similarities. Both lions and wolves live in packs with other members of their species.

Most lion and wolf interactions involve the gray wolf and mountain lions, as these both live in the Northern parts of America, but there are also some encounters between the African wolves and African lions.

In this article, we’ll discuss the similarities, differences, and encounters between these species.

Trait Wolf Lion
Height 26-33” (66-83 cm) 35-47” (90-120 cm)
Weight 65-175 lbs (30-80 kg) 270-570 lbs (120-260 kg)
Lifespan 10-14 years 10-15 years
Distribution United States, Canada, Eurasia, Africa Africa
Diet Carnivore Carnivore

Lion vs. Wolf Pack

A single lion would most likely be able to take down several wolves with it if it were ever to encounter a wolf pack. However, a pride of lions would definitely have no issue dealing with a pack of wolves.

Both wolves and lions live in packs, hence if they were ever to cross paths, there’s a good chance it would be the pride vs. the pack.

However, if a single lion were to come across a pack of wolves, it’s most likely to be defeated. That’s not to say, that the lion wouldn’t put up a fight.

pride of lion resting

Lion vs. Wolf: Who Would Win

A lion would easily be able to defeat a wolf. They’re bigger, more ferocious, and would end up victorious in this matchup.

Lions are generally bigger and heavier than wolves, measuring at around six feet long and weighing between 250-500 pounds. Wolves usually measure in at about four feet long and weigh around 75-125 pounds.

The lion’s mane also serves as protection from attack; while it may not be enough to stop a determined wolf, it can slow it down and give the lion an advantage.

lion face

Lion vs. Wolf Differences

There are many differences between lions and wolves. Their physicality, origin, and habitats are some of the major differences.

First off, let’s talk about size. Lions are generally much bigger than wolves. A lion can weigh up to 500 pounds, while a wolf typically weighs around 100 pounds. 

Because of their different body types, lions tend to be more stocky and muscular than wolves, who are longer and leaner.

The two animals originate from different ancestors, which is why they’re fundamentally different. They’ve also evolved to live in different habitats, though some of these habitats overlap.

Physical Differences

Male lions are known for their big mane, whereas wolves areas are known for their big dog-like looks and typically gray color.

One of the most obvious ways to tell a lion apart from a wolf is by its physical features. 

Lions are generally bigger and heavier than wolves, with males weighing up to 570 lb (260 kg)  and females 395 lb (180 kg). Males also have a thick mane around their neck which gives them an imposing appearance. 

Wolves, on the other hand, are much smaller in comparison – the largest ones only weigh up to 175 lb (80 kg).

Lions are also taller than wolves, standing 35 to 47 inches tall. Compared to wolves, who stand 26 to 33 inches tall, they’re quite a lot taller.

Related: Wolf size compared to a lion

lion roar

Family: Felidae vs. Canidae

The lion is considered to be part of the family Felidae, while the wolf belongs to the Canidae family – although both families belong to Order Carnivora. 

Class Wolf Lion
Kingdom: Animalia Animalia
Phylum: Chordata Chordata
Class: Mammalia Mammalia
Order: Carnivora Carnivora
Family: Canidae Felidae
Genus: Canis Panthera
Species: C. lupus P. leo

Habitats & Distribution

Lions are found in grasslands and savannas in Africa, while wolves typically inhabit colder climates and areas with more forests.

Wolves have a wider distribution than lions; they can be found across Europe, Asia, North America, parts of South America, and Africa. Lions are only present in sub-Saharan Africa while wolves live on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

pride of female lions

Wolf vs. Lion Similarities

Lions and wolves are two of the most popular animals in the world. They’re both from different families, but they resemble each other a lot. They both have sharp claws and teeth, and they’re both very powerful predators.

Lions and wolves are similar in many ways. They’re both agile hunters who rely on their strength and speed to hunt down prey.

The two animals also live in groups, where a lion group is called a “pride” and a group of wolves is called a “pack”.

Both Are Predators

Lions and wolves are both predators, which means that they hunt and kill other animals for food [2]. This is what separates them from prey animals, which are the ones that get hunted by predators. 

Both lions and wolves belong to the family of Carnivora, meaning “meat-eaters”.

Lions and wolves both prefer to hunt for bigger animals, as these provide food for the entire group.

male lion hunting

Diet

Lions are carnivores and their diet consists mainly of herbivores such as wildebeest, zebra, and antelope. They do prefer larger animals, as these animals provide more food.

Wolves are also carnivores, and they show the same tendency toward large animals. Wolves prefer to hunt ungulates, which are large, hoofed animals such as moose or elk.

lion eating meat

Social Behavior

Lions are the only social big cats. A lion’s pride consists of several females, their young, and one or two males that mate with all of the females in the pride. Male lions defend the territory while the lionesses do most of the hunting.

Wolves are pack animals, living and hunting together in groups of six to eight animals. They have a complex social order with a dominant breeding pair (the alpha male and female) and subordinate wolves.

lionesses hunting

Are Wolves and Lions Related?

Lions and wolves are not related to each other. While they have a similar body structure, they do not share a recent common ancestor. Lions are members of the cat family while wolves belong to the dog family.

Do Lions and Wolves Get Along?

Lions and wolves do not get along in the wild. While they don’t cross paths often, mountain lions and wolves do. These two animals consider each other competitors, and will often kill each other over territory or food.

Overall, it seems like the two animals can coexist if they’re not competing for the same resources.

Related: Mountain lion vs. Wolf

Do Lions Prey on Wolves?

Lions and wolves typically don’t prey on each other, but they may if there are no other animals to hunt.

Lions and wolves are both predators, but they usually prey on different animals. Lions usually prey on antelopes, zebras, wildebeests, and other hoofed mammals. Wolves usually prey on deer, elk, caribou, and other ungulates.

Wolves have been seen driving down the mountain lion population, either for territory or food. [2]

Related: What are wolves’ enemies?

male lion and dead wildebeest

Do Wolves and Lions Ever Meet?

Wolves and lions rarely meet in the wild, but they do in certain areas. Mountain lions and wolves can meet in Nothern America, and African wolves and lions may cross paths in Africa.

When discussing wolves and lions, it’s important to have clear boundaries of the species.

Gray wolves, the most common type of wolf, may cross paths with mountain lions. These both live in North America, while the mountain lions primarily live in mountain habitats.

African wolves, a subspecies of wolves, live in Africa, along with the African lion. Here they rarely cross paths, but it can occur.

Conclusion

A pack of wolves can take down a lion, but a single wolf cannot win over a single lion. Lions are generally larger and heavier than wolves, which gives them an advantage in terms of strength and power.

While the two don’t often cross paths, it may happen. This will typically be an interaction between mountain lions and wolves in the Northern parts of America.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.